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Cyprus

New anti-crime centre to tackle juvenile delinquency

Central Prison

The first project for the newly-established centre for anti-crime and security policy is a bill on handling juvenile delinquents, Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said on Monday.

The centre, Nicolaou said, which was established following a Cabinet decision, will carry out scientific and forensic studies and research for the prevention and suppression of crime, and the social inclusion of offenders and former convicts.

It also aims to carry out studies on public security, penalties, and any other aspect related to crime. The head of the centre, which is made up of experienced law professors, is the justice minister, while Dr Nestor Kourakis, a law professor at the University of Nicosia, is currently the deputy head.

The first project for the centre, launched on Monday, is a bill on handling juvenile delinquents, Nicolaou said. “It is a very important bill, for which the observations of all involved state services were taken into consideration,” Nicolaou said. He added that the bill proposal is to be finalised at the centre’s next meeting at the end of June, and is to be sent to the state legal services for scrutiny.

Drafting legislation to deal with young delinquents has been a standing demand of the Children’s Rights Commissioner Leda Koursoumba, who has been calling for years for a comprehensive policy aiming to keep troubled teens out of prisons. Imprisoning a minor, Koursoumba had said, leads to the creation of a young adult who has been exposed to all sorts of criminals in jail.

Nicolaou said that the centre aims to fill the void as regards the state’s short and long term goals on anti-crime policy. Every justice minister, he said, was promoting a different policy according to their perceptions, but there was no substantial study or assessed results.

Among the goals is the update of the penal code, as it was drafted in the 1950’s and it includes “crimes and penalties that are outdated according to today’s norms”.

For example, he said, the sentence for those found guilty for arson on hay is life imprisonment.

The centre, Nicolaou said, is tasked with collecting statistical surveys, and data and to evaluate actions and their possible impact, and to compare with the laws of other states and propose modernisation where it deems necessary. The aim is to introduce policies that yield results, he said.

 

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